I had a dream a few nights ago. In the dream I am in charge of the Academy Awards. The show is about to start. I’ve entrusted the opening music to my mother. She plays the wrong song! I hear Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”, and she’s playing it on an LP, scratch vinyl!
I frantically look through mounds of vinyl LPs for the correct song, which is Barbra Streisand’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade”. I can’t find it. I admit to those around me that for last year’s show we used CDs for the first time. Suddenly, an obnoxious voice chimes in: “Why are you using vinyl? Who uses vinyl anymore, or even CDs for that matter? Why aren’t there MP3s or other modern formats for your music? This is crazy!”
I ask those around me to make him shut up because I can’t concentrate. Knowing the whole world is now watching and waiting, I keep shuffling through the vinyl LPs, hoping to find the right song. The End.
Here’s what came to me as I played with the dream: A nostalgic “White Christmas” life, a fantasy existence, plays in my head like a broken record. That broken record says that my work should be like an idealized view of a past job. My friends now should make me feel just like beloved friends made me feel in college and young adulthood. The record skips from song to song, replay old recordings about how community, work, a relationship, friendships, and even the divine should be. Why has my life not turned out to be the award-deserving triumph I envisioned?
I sensed that the deeper issue is the format, symbolized by vinyl LPs. They have deep grooves and ruts that are comfortable yet confining. Digital recordings and live streaming are more flexible and adaptable. I don’t need a new song, which would soon become its own broken record. I need a new format, a different context for listening to the music of my life.
The old format is one of comparisons, “should have been” and “ought to be”. Fantasies about the past become a broken record with which no current reality can compete, and I become too fogged with nostalgia or judgment to notice what’s emerging around and within me.
An alternative is to savor the love available in real life here and now. This reality-based format is fluid, unpredictable and vulnerable. And yet the rhythm of goodness here is genuine and vivacious. All I need to do is feel the beat and move with it.
So, I thanked that obnoxious voice which I had tried to silence in the dream. I intend to come out of the nostalgic rut and savor my life here and now. Love…true, messy and omnipresent…is the only reality worth leaving nostalgia for.
What do you make of the dream? What do you relate to in it?